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News in brief: I can’t conjure up an end to knife crime, says Javid

THERE is ‘no magic wand’ to end violence on our streets, Sajid Javid warned as he defended the government’s proposals for new knife crime prevention orders. The powers, backed by police chiefs but criticised by some as criminalising young people, could impose curfews or restrictions on social media use on anyone over 12 suspected of carrying a blade. Breaching this could result in up to two years in prison.Writing in The Times, the home secretary said: ‘I am determined to prevent violent crime scarring our society.’

Jams ‘costing motorists almost £8billion a year

’CONGESTION cost the economy £7.9billion last year, a study finds. Drivers in London lost up to £1,680 to jams, followed by £1,219 in Edinburgh and £1,157 in Manchester, according to transport data firm Inrix. Central London and Edinburgh are the slowest cities with an average rush-hour speed of 7mph. The A406 from Chiswick roundabout to Hanger Lane was the worst stretch, averaging 61 wasted hours last year. Inrix’s Trevor Reed said jams will have ‘serious consequences’ if the problem is not addressed.

Bulgaria shares info on third novichok suspect

BRITAIN has teamed up with Bulgaria to investigate a Russian named as a possible third suspect in the Salisbury novichok attack. ‘We are working in a joint team,’ said ambassador Emma Hopkins after a meeting with Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov. The man — calling himself Sergei Fedotov — entered Britain on the same day as the Russian duo said to have tried to kill ex-spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia last March, says investigative group Bellingcat. He is a suspect in the 2015 poisoning of a Bulgarian arms dealer, who also survived.

World Cup fan denies damaging ambulance

A FOOTBALL fan accused of climbing on an ambulance during last year’s World Cup has pleaded not guilty to damaging property. James Elton, of West Hampstead, London, is alleged to have stood on the roof of the vehicle near London Bridge wearing England manager Gareth Southgate’s trademark waistcoat following the team’s quarter-final win over Sweden last July. The 27-year-old is due to stand trial in June alongside three other defendants at Inner London crown court.

Arts Council will press for data on staff sexuality

ARTS Council England will ‘pressure’ groups such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Ballet to reveal data on their staff’s sexuality. The council, which plans to invest £1.45billion in public funding in the coming years, wants to check diversity targets are being met among groups that often report ‘unknown’ in surveys. But campaign group Privacy International said: ‘It is unacceptable to pressure employees to provide such personal and private information.’

Man in court over stab death of mum-of-four

A MAN accused of stabbing a mum-of-four to death in the street appeared in court yesterday. Ricardo Godinho is charged with murder after Aliny Mendes, 39, died in Ewell, Surrey, on Friday. The 41-year-old from Epsom, who gave his nationality as Brazilian/Italian at Staines magistrates’ court, was remanded in custody and will next appear at Guildford crown court on Monday. Vanessa Ferro, who is raising money to repatriate Ms Mendes’s body to Brazil, said her family and friends ‘are in total shock at the loss of this wonderful person’.

Contraception finding is a hard pill to swallow

THE Pill can blur emotional judgment, a study shows. Women taking it are ten per cent less likely than others to correctly interpret people’s facial expressions, found psychologists. Tests revealed only ‘subtle changes’, admitted Dr Alexander Lischke, one of the research team from the University of Greifswald in Germany. But he said an impaired ability to judge emotions could affect relationships. The study involved 42 women who were taking the Pill and 53 who were not.

Charity ap-peel to follow top banana Meghan’s lead

A CHARITY is calling on people to follow Meghan Markle’s example by writing uplifting messages on bananas. One25 in Bristol, which the Duchess of Sussex visited with Prince Harry, was inspired to launch a social media campaign ‘#bananamessaging’, saying it was a ‘great way to spread empowering messages’. It came after Meghan, 37, wrote on the fruit, which One25 distributes as part of food parcels for sex workers, ‘you are strong’, ‘you are special’, ‘you are brave’ and ‘you are loved’.

A-levels ‘fail to teach right skills for future’

A-LEVELS are not fit for purpose and do not equip young people with the right skills for work, says scientific body the Royal Society. At its business forum today president Venki Ramakrishnan will call for an independent review of post-16 education. The society says in the coming years four out of five businesses will need more high-skilled roles but two-thirds fear a shortage of suitable candidates. Mr Ramakrishnan will criticise A-levels as too narrow, and will say we must ‘make sure our schools and colleges are teaching skills that will be needed’.

Awks! The moments that make millennials cringe

ENDING a work call with ‘I love you’ and dropping your mobile into a toilet are among our most cringeworthy moments. Waving at the wrong person, forgetting a friend’s birthday and falling asleep on a stranger’s shoulder on the Tube are also high in the embarrassment stakes, says a survey of 2,000 people by haircare brand Aussie. It found millennials are more susceptible, with half having an awkward moment at least once a week compared with one in ten over-55s.

Judge cuts drug dealer’s jail term after letter of apology

A DRUG dealer caught with heroin, cocaine and a knife in his car had his sentence cut by eight months after he wrote the judge a letter of apology. Lamar Blackstock, 27, of Thamesmead, London, was held on the way to sell the drugs in Kent, a court in Maidstone heard. He admitted possession and intent to supply. Judge Phillip Statman jailed him for 40 months and said he cut the term because of Blackstock’s ‘genuine remorse’.

BBC trims News At Ten bulletin to air Fleabag

THE News At Ten on the BBC will be shortened from March 4. The bulletin will be cut from 45 minutes to 35, with a shorter 90-second weather forecast and seven minutes of regional news. The cut will make way on Mondays to Wednesdays for programmes such as Fleabag, new dating show Eating With My Ex and make-up competition Glow-Up, while Question Time will start earlier on Thursdays. The news is already 35 minutes on Fridays. Viewers wanting more in-depth news should switch to BBC Two’s Newsnight, said the corporation.

WORLD BRIEFS

‘Slugs’ made Earth’s first move 2.1bn years ago

A FOSSIL deposit found in Africa is evidence that the first signs of movement on Earth 2.1billion years ago was probably by a slug-like creature. The find in Gabon, by an international team of scientists, dates the first signs of multi-cellular life on Earth to 1.5billion years earlier than first thought. Sedimentologist Prof Abderrazak El Albani, of the University of Poitiers, in France, said it showed organisms in the primitive marine ecosystem were able to move through its mud in search of nutrients.

NEWS BITES

■ A DEVON farm is offering yoga classes in a field full of alpacas. Nick and Lucy Aylett, of South Molton, who also offer alpaca picnics, walks and art sessions, say they are ‘great for mind, body and soul’.

■ DOCTORS should be ‘confident’ diagnosing patients with Lyme disease before getting blood test results if they see a ‘bull’s eye’ rash, say health officials. The rash, present in two thirds of cases, could increase early treatment.

■ FIREFIGHTERS are calling for sprinklers to be compulsory in all new residential blocks, in the wake of the Grenfell disaster. The London Fire Brigade said developers cannot be trusted to ‘self-regulate’.

■ MORE than 170 acres of land rich in fungi have been declared sites of special scientific interest. The move by Natural England is designed to help protect Dorset’s Down Farm and the Leasowes near Birmingham.

■ DEADLY diseases such as cancer could be spotted without surgery thanks to 3D X-ray technology. The MARS small bore spectral scanner, made in New Zealand, produces clear colour images of the body.

■ HIGH Court judge Mrs Justice Parker, 68, expressed remorse after ‘momentarily’ falling asleep in a family court hearing. She was issued with formal advice after parties in the case complained.